James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
of selfhood and right to participate in this world. Moreover, violence is absolutely integral to the markings of subjectivity, setting apart claims about identity, along with notions of civility and barbarism. Violence is always mediated through expressed dichotomies between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours, between the right to punish and the intolerable transgression, between the force of normative law and the terror of the minority. In fact, there is an entire political ecology at work in the very diagnosis of something as political violence in itself
( 2016 ), The Seductions of Quantification: Measuring
Human Rights, Gender Violence, and Sex Trafficking ’
( Chicago : The University of
Chicago Press ).
( 2015 ), ‘ Interventionism as Practice: On
“Ordinary Transgressions” and Their
Routinization ’, Journal of Intervention and
to resist or change social
or political wrong through either ‘contained or transgressive
tactics, excluding political violence’ (Global Activism, Ruth Reitan,
Re-assertion of state sovereignty was also linked to the fact that pre-1989
MSF often worked on the margins of conflicts/refugees, as opposed to
directly inside, thus bringing our public critiques and
stranger as an unknown but nonetheless identifiable (read: racialised) figure who
posits danger and transgression in his very being (see also Fanon, 1975 ). This figuration can be readily transposed to
the colonial and patriarchal bases of the aid sector, structured by hierarchical and
highly sexualised notions of both race and gender. Under this logic, colonised and
non-white men have long been positioned as libidinous and violent, threats to the
safety and honour of white women, while
This book looks at sovereignty as a particular form of power and politics. It shows that the fate of bodies in the transition from life to death can provide a key to understanding fundamental ways in which sovereignty is claimed and performed. The contributions analyse (post-)conflict as well as non-conflict contexts, which too often are studied in isolation from one another. Focusing on contemporary issues rather than the equally important historical dimensions, they all grapple with the questions of who governs the dead bodies, how, why and with what effects. The book analyses how dead bodies are placed and dealt with in spaces between competing, overlapping and nested sovereign orders, under normal as well as exceptional conditions. It looks at contributions that draw on psychoanalysis, critical theory, the structuralist-functionalist anthropology of burial rituals and recent ideas of agency and materiality. The book first explains the efforts of states to contain and separate out dead bodies in particular sites. It explores the ways in which such efforts of containment are negotiated and contested in struggles between different entities that claim the dead bodies. The book then shows how entities that claim sovereignty produce effects of sovereignty by challenging and transgressing the laws regarding the legitimate use of violence and how dead bodies should be treated with dignity.
The 1990s witnessed an explosion in women's writing in France, with a particularly exciting new generation of writer's coming to the fore, such as Christine Angot, Marie Darrieussecq and Regine Detambel. This book introduces an analysis of new women's writing in contemporary France, including both new writers of the 1990s and their more established counter-parts. The 1990s was an exciting period for women's writing in France. The novels of Louise Lambrichs are brilliant but troubling psychological dramas focusing on the traumas that inhabit the family romance: incest, sterility, the death those we love and the terrible legacy of mourning. The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The book explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction', melancholic autobiographical fiction. It places Confidence pour confidence within Constant's oeuvre as a whole, and argues for a more positive reading of the novel, a reading that throws light on the trajectory of mother-daughter relations in her fiction. Christiane Baroche was acclaimed in France first as a short-story writer. Unable to experience the freedom of their brothers and fathers, beur female protagonists are shown to experience it vicariously through the reading, and the writing of, narratives. Clotilde Escalle's private worlds of sex and violence, whose transgressions are part of real lives, shock precisely because they are brought into the public sphere, expressed in and through writing.
step’ in forming society, the transgression of which causes
atavistic endogamy. 10 Joseph
Shepher located the incest taboo as being rooted in biology as well as
social rules and customs and argued that violations against it are
genetically and socially damaging. 11 The Freudian understanding of the incest
taboo positions it as a necessary part of psychosexual development for
Unnatural women and uncomfortable
readers? Clotilde Escalle’s tales of
Described by critics variously as one of the ‘new barbarians’ of French
writing,1 as one of the cruel ‘Barbarellas’ who seek only to depict the disarray of contemporary French society,2 and as one of the new breed of
women writers who hold a violent and deep-seated grudge against the gaze
of men,3 Clotilde Escalle is remarkable among new writers for the dispassionate way in which she presents violent sexual and familial dramas.
Escalle was born in in Fez
theory (‘between bio- and necropolitics’), the structuralist-functionalist anthropology of burial rituals (‘rites of separation and the sacralisation of authority’) and recent ideas of agency
and materiality (‘dead agency’). Despite their differences, the various
approaches point towards an excess of meaning and affect relating
to dead bodies and human remains, something that evokes the mystical, the sacred, the liminal and the transgressive, which, in the end,
The following nine chapters are organised in two parts. The first,